Managing the Risks of Switch Bills of Lading
NUS Centre for Maritime Law Working Paper 19/03
34 Pages Posted: 8 May 2019
Date Written: May 8, 2019
This working paper examines the legal and commercial ramifications of issuing switch bills of lading, explores the legal risks involved in this practice, and analyses how these risks may best be managed and mitigated.
The paper examines whether a switch bill of lading constitutes a novation or a variation of the original contract of carrier and discusses who is entitled to request a switch and who must authorise or consent to it. The paper also explores title to sue and liability questions, as well as the mandatory applicability of international transport Conventions to switch bills of lading.
The paper highlights the various commercial and legal risks of consenting to the issue of switch bills of lading and proposes ways in which these risks could be minimised, including through the adoption of electronic alternatives to bills of lading.
Keywords: carriage of goods by sea, switch bills of lading, contractual novation, contract variation, title to sue, carrier liability, fraud, misrepresentation, illegality, electronic transport documents
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